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THE SKETCHBOOK

A little girl who loves to draw is shy about showing her pictures to anyone.

Young Lily is “afraid of what others might think of her drawings, so she [keeps] her pictures hidden in her sketchbook.” While author/illustrator Seal’s illustrations are varied in their presentation—double-page spreads are interspersed with spot illustrations, vignettes, and full-page bleeds—the overall presentation doesn’t sparkle as a book about art should. The characters’ expressions are uniformly pleasant, and the illustrations mostly mirror the text. A few notable illustrations reach beyond, however, as when Lily’s imagination is visually underscored by her drawing of a rainy day and a poignant moment when she draws herself in a group of children. The storyline inevitably engineers that Lily’s drawings are accidently seen by the townspeople—a gust of wind scatters them—and Lily is mortified until she realizes that people are praising them. Strangely, here the storyline moves from confidence in drawing to confidence in telling stories as, “for the first time in Lily’s life, words came spilling out of her.” The final illustration and its accompanying text add to this perplexity by showing Lily surrounded by new friends admiring her pictures, with the words: “And now she’d found a voice, and friends to share them with.” This conflation of storylines, strange grammar aside, is just plain confusing. Lily presents white while other residents of her picturesque town are somewhat diverse.

Competent illustrations, muddied storyline. (Picture book. 4-6)

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